Starting a Self Defense Training Group Part 3

We’ve discussed the need for a crew and some of the challenges we will meet in Part 1 and Part 2. So lets talk about you now. Yes, you.

Someone needs to take the lead.

This is a precarious position to be in. It can have several personal development lessons, and a lot of it depends on where you are in relation to understanding the techniques you want to work on. In the early days I tried to mainly cast myself as an organizer. I want to get this training in, so I set up the time and place. I bring the gear, I choose an agenda, and we show up and do work. There is some structure like this, but its mainly just setting up the circumstances so that training can happen.

In my experience this approach is highly effective given what you have to work with. Its a fuck ton better than having someone with only a rough understanding trying to mimic an instructor and play teacher. There’s plenty of that out in the world, and I’ve yet to be impressed with any of its products. On the other hand I’ve seen plenty of guys that were honest about their limitations who consistently put in effort and stayed humble come through like a wrecking ball.

As an organizer it will be your job first and foremost to pick the time and place. Do not do this by group discussion. Everyone’s schedules wont line up. Someone will make a big deal out of day and time then get a last minute emergency. There will be traffic that day, its my kids birthday, my wife needs a ride to work, and on and on and on. We have lives, all of us, you cant make everyone happy. Pick a time and place that works for you and sounds reasonable. Don’t worry about everyone showing up, keep this going and they will have another chance to train in the future. Try to please everyone and no one gets to train.

Any place will do. We have trained in muddy yards, gravel ranges, old abandoned trailers, baseball fields and parks. Today we are proud to have classes in a world class martial arts facility at Stout Training Pittsburgh / Team Renzo Gracie but it took years to get this legit.

Your next job is to pick a topic. I will lay out some guidelines and formats in the next post that will be more specific in this regard. The topic should be a sliver of the overall picture. We need to develop a focus for these sessions for them to be of use. If perhaps at your last ECQC you really struggled getting trapped in side control during the grounded evolution (its like I’m a mind reader! ) then escapes from side control would be a good choice.

Then we come to the day of the event. Get started on time, and keep to the schedule. This may be the hardest part. People are often late. I think personally that’s disrespectful. But these are semi formal classes, and I’m happy they show up at all so I keep it to myself (I’ve gotten a lot better!) Just start when the time comes, late people play catch up. Keeping on task is the part that takes some personality. In this sort of semi formal setting we cannot bark orders, and without the participants having payed money we cannot expect them to give their full attention the way they would in a class setting. But we must stay on task. Too much side talk, guys wanting to experiment, these distractions take away from the efficiency of using the time you have. If I’m going to dedicate a block of my busy life to this it needs to be useful, and if I want to respect the time of those I hope to train with I need to deliver. If guys want to hang out after and dick around, or get together for unstructured time to work on something that’s great! I encourage that! But when we are getting together to do work we need to bring our focus and get at it.

If you have people who have experience in some areas work with them on presenting the material. Perhaps you set the time, place, and do all the organizing but there is a guy in your group who was an amateur boxer that your going to have present some material during your striking session. It is important to differ to experience and recruit support. We need to be able to promote information sharing and group effort while we keep structure and drive.

I highly suggest using video for review. Video of everything. Get some of the drilling, any demo’s, instructional, presentation, and live training. It’s been very developmentally helpful for me to take video of me presenting the material and then reviewing that video with my coaches. Over the years it is amusing to me to watch me present a piece on a topic from a few years ago and then watch that same presentation now and see how much I’ve been able to tune it up and the level of my apparent comfort in the delivery grow. When watching live training if you see a failure point over and over and then go back and see how they where drilling, or if it was addressed (and how!) in the demo can really help us install the techniques better. I prefer for ease of sharing to upload videos to youtube on unlisted links and then be able to send that link where it needs to go. If you set them as unlisted they can only view them with the link, its not searchable, and we can watch it anywhere from any device with internet access without worrying about file types and sizes. It doesn’t need to be production quality film making, just good enough to review and learn from.

For the sake of using time wisely  I suggest after training review and feedback be done outside of the training session. I’ve used a lot of different tools for this. Early on we did email chains, later a friend of mine was kind enough to provide a private section on an online discussion forum he ran. After that forum was gone I had a hidden forum on my website we used. Now I use a private Facebook group. Its free, its easy to access, and its easy to add people to and use.

In part 4 I will share the ancient secret forbidden knowledge passed down through esoteric kata based on the movements of pandas giving birth and we will look at formats and some of the exercises we use.

Part 1

Part 2

Shawn Lupka

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